Editorial Review

Citi Rewards+ Student Review: Unique Features for Smaller Spenders

Students who spend a lot on gas and groceries may benefit, and the card's rounding feature helps with small purchases. But more lucrative options exist.

Melissa LambarenaMarch 26, 2020

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This page includes information about one or more products not currently available on NerdWallet:

  • Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
  • Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

As a result, offers described on this page may be out of date. See our NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards page for updated offers.

Our Take

3.8

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: It offers some features you won't find elsewhere, but even among cards targeted toward students, it lags in terms of earning potential and perks.

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 7 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee

Alternate Pick: Higher rewards potential

Discover it® Student Cash Back

No FICO credit history required

Earn 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories on up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter (activation required), and 1% back on everything else. In the past, bonus categories have included grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and more. You'll also get a sign-up bonus: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. The annual fee is $0.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Capital One Journey Student Rewards Credit Card

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

20.24% Variable

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 7 months

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The $0-annual-fee Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card could be a decent choice as a starter card — assuming you can qualify for it.

The card is marketed to students who have good credit, which typically means a FICO credit score of 690 or higher. That could be a tall order if you're just starting out with credit, and it's unclear whether applicants with no credit will be able to get it. (Citi didn't offer details about qualification requirements for this card after several requests from NerdWallet for clarification.)

The card could be valuable for creditworthy students who frequently spend on gas and groceries, and its unique "roundup" feature boosts your earnings on small purchases like a snack on the way to class. But there are other rewards-earning options out there for students, even for those who lack a credit history or Social Security number.

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card: Basics

Card type: Student.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com.

Rewards:

  • 2 ThankYou points per $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations (for the first $6,000 spent per year).

  • 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • 10% points back for the first 100,000 ThankYou Points redeemed per year.

Rewards are rounded up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. So if you buy a $3 college-ruled notebook, you get 10 points instead of three.

Redemption options:

You can redeem points for things like gift cards, travel, statement credits (for eligible purchases only) and shopping online with points at Amazon.com or BestBuy.com. But point values vary depending on how you redeem them.

If you redeem for gift cards, points are generally worth about 1 cent each. But redemption via Amazon will net you a point value of only about 0.8 cent each. Options such as statement credit often redeem at only a half-cent per point.

Interest rate: 0% on Purchases for 7 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

Other perks: Citi Entertainment, which offers access to presale tickets, VIP packages to concerts, sporting events and more.

Why you might want the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Decent ongoing rewards

Cards marketed toward students don't always offer rewards. Generally, their primary purpose is to help you establish credit, and indeed the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card reports to all three major credit bureaus. But it also offers 2 ThankYou points per $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations (for the first $6,000 spent per year combined), and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Those are potentially valuable categories for college students.

Unique features

In college, every little bit helps. For starters, this card's “roundup” feature can make smaller purchases more rewarding. A pizza that costs $10.99 will be rounded up to 20 ThankYou points back, worth 20 cents when redeemed for gift cards. For comparison, using a flat-rate 1.5% cash-back card for the same purchase nets you only about 16 cents back. You'll also get 10% of your points back for the first 100,000 ThankYou Points redeemed each year. That could be worth a maximum of $100 annually assuming you redeem for gift cards. Plus, there's a modest sign-up bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com. Again, every little bit helps.

An intro APR period to pay off purchases

The card's introductory offer can buy you some time to pay off pricey textbooks or school supplies. You'll get an intro 0% on Purchases for 7 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR. Pay off your balance in full every month once the offer expires to keep interest payments from chipping away at your rewards.

Why you might want a different card

It's not ideal for dining out

If you spend more at restaurants than you do at the grocery store, there are better picks. One of them is the $0-annual-fee Discover it® Student chrome. It offers 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent per quarter in combined spending at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% back on everything else. Crucially, this card is also available to those with only average credit (FICO scores of at least 630), and Discover notes those with no FICO credit history at all may also qualify.

Other cards have more Forgiving policies

Miss a payment on the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card and it can cost you in terms of a late fee and penalty APR. If you're looking for more leniency, both the Discover it® Student chrome and Discover's other student credit card — the Discover it® Student Cash Back — let you skip the fee for the first late payment, and neither charges a penalty APR. (Be aware, though, that paying late can still affect your credit scores.)

It's not a good travel buddy

The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee per purchase, making it a poor travel companion if you’re planning to travel or study abroad. The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® spares you those fees, and it offers 1% cash back on all spending, plus an extra 0.25% for paying on time. That’s a good starting rate for a student credit card. It has a $0 annual fee.

It's not ideal for international students

Not only is the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card marketed to those with good credit, but like nearly all other credit cards it also requires a Social Security number when you apply online. International students may lack both of those things. If that's you, the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students is a great option. International students without a Social Security number can apply for the card with other documentation, such as a visa, passport and eligible school forms. Also unlike other issuers, Deserve doesn’t rely solely on credit history to determine eligilbity. The issuer has its own underwriting process to evaluate your application. The card earns 1% cash back on all purchases, and as a Mastercard without foreign transaction fees, it’s also a worthy travel companion abroad. It has a $0 annual fee.

Is the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card right for you?

If you spend the bulk of your budget on gas and groceries, the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card can offer value, as well as some unique features you won't find elsewhere. But depending on your spending habits and your credit scores, you might find more lucrative options.

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